Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Latest Art Quilt - Center

I  have heard that art quilts have a mind of their own and can take over their destiny at some point. This is certainly true of my latest piece, Center.

The peacock feather came from a fan I received a few years ago as a gift in India. The background is a hand-knit square I made  and wanted to experiment with.  I used some soluble stabilizer to create the inner border (I will post detail on that on Friday.).

At that point I considered submitting the piece for a SAQA exhibit but there was size constraint of an 8 inch square. Center did not want to be an 8 inche square. I put it in a drawer for a bit but it kept calling out for more. Hence, the blue border.

And so, Center became my piece for the 3 Creative Studios Quilt Challenge 2010. The word for the July/August challenge was reflection. Center is reflective for me. In the art of aikido that I practice, we speak of having 'one point', a mind/body state of calmness and relaxation. Reflection and meditation contribute to our development of one point. The 'eye' of the peacock feather reminds me of one point.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Simple Block

Have you ever gotten fascinated with a single quilt block? A friend gave me a book called "Japanese Quilt Blocks" by Susan Briscoe that she picked up at a garage sale. The book depicts 123 separate quilt blocks and how to assemble them. My Turtle quilt used two of the blocks and I just completed a second quilt using the same two blocks. One of them, Yosegi kaku to sankaku, has me mesmerized. The Japanese words translate as 'squares and triangles'. The method of assembly is simple and dependable. In fact the method probably interests me as much as the design in some ways.

Here is the finished block:
 To create the block, you simply cut two sets of four rectangles - one large and one small. For this 9" block, I cut four 5" squares and four 2' squares. Set the smaller square on a corner of the larger square and sew on the diagonal. Flip the inner triangle of the small block out and trim the excess fabric along the seam line.: 

Here is how my most recent quilt top turned out.

My mind is currently racing with possiblities for changing proportions and playing with color.  I am always looking for simple patterns to assemble in tandem to working on more complex works. Yosegi kaku to sankaku fits the bill!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dreaming of the Great Barrier Reef

One of my most memorable trips was to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. We stayed on Heron Island which sits in the reef for several days and wandered the shores. Here are some photos I took in the water just off shore.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plan Ahead for SAQA auction

I will remind everyone again as September 20th approaches - the first day of the Studio Art Quilt Associates annual auction. There are many foot square quilts that you can bid on. You can learn more on the SAQA site.

Here are four of my favorite quilts up for auction:

Comet Tales - Sandra E. Lauterbach
Autumn Trees #2 - Peg Keeney

A Free Spirit - Loreen Leedy
Black-eyed Susan - Dawn Browning

Monday, August 23, 2010

Darned Quilts Registration Beginning

 Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that registration at Quilt University for Dena Crain's Darned Quilts class begin on this Friday.

The class begins on October 1 and runs for five weeks. I have taken a number of classes through Quilt University, including all of Dena's, and really appreciate the flexibility of the format.

I highly recommend Dena's classes. She is an amazing teacher who will really push you to discover new depth in your work. Darned Quilts teaches a unique approach to creating a quilt. What was equally important to me was the instruction and coaching in basic design that came with the course. The handouts are awesome. I have wound up with the equivalent of several books from Dena's handouts.

You can find some illustrations of some of the amazing quilts created in Darned Quilts in Dena's Alumni Gallery. Here are two of mine:

Friday, August 20, 2010

No Place to Call Home Exhibit

My quilt, Homeless, begins touring with the No Place to Call Home Exhibit this weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire at the World Quilt Show - New England. The exhibit includes 21 pieces that together create an exhibition of work addressing issues of human homelessness.

Wish that I could be there for the opening but it just isn't possible. Other shows that the exhibit will be at include:
  • September 16-19 - Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XVII, Philadelphia Area, PA
  • October 14-17 - Pacific International Quilt Festival XIX - Santa Clara, CA
  • November 12-14 - World Quilt Show - Florida
  • Feb. 24-27 - Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival XXII, Mampton, VA
  • March 3-6 - The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII, Somerset, NJ
  • April 28 - May 1 - Denver National Quilt Festival VI, Denver, CO

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Floral Explosion

I have finished my latest art quilt - Floral Explosion. This grew out a fat quarter that fascinated me. I collected some fabrics that worked with it and went from there. After a brief respite while I contemplated thread work and quilting, I resumed work on it and have been progressing all summer. I kept wanting to call the piece Explosion but somehow wanted flowers or forest acknowledged. This morning the title, Floral Explosion, seemed just right.

Comments are most welcome!

Here is some detail on it.:

Monday, August 16, 2010

2110 National Small Art Quilts exhibit

This past week I took a trip to Groton, New York to the Main Street Gallery to see the 2110 National Small Art Quilts exhibit. It was a really worthwhile drive. The gallery, owned by Roger and Adrienne Bea Smith, is displaying 36 small works. The works are as diverse as the artists.  I recognized a few names, Lisa Chipetine - president of SAQA, fellow GVQC member Nancy Hicks, and fellow blogger Jeanne Marklin whose note in her blog on the opening of the exhibition gave me the idea to drive down and see the exhibit.

I wasn't permitted to take photos of the individual works, but you can see images of each quilt on the Main Street Gallery website. That will give you a sense of the works but you really need to see them in person. After viewing the works in person, I went and looked at the photos online. Some simply did not show well as photos. I could barely recognize one of my favorites - Jewel Box by Sherry McKeever, which had the most delicate framing of the main body of the quilt.  Another of my favorites - Heron by Anne Hiemstra - photographed quite well - perhaps because it was made from cottons rather than silks.

The quilts are displayed in one simple horizontal line along the gallery's white walls. I really feel this method of display allows the observer to focus upon each work. Roger mentioned he could fit more quilts in the exhibit if he filled the walls more but he chooses not to do that. I heartily agree. I circled the gallery any number of times, first taking in the general themes, then paying particular attention to style and technique, and then focusing upon bindings - an area I am particularly interested in a the moment. I probably could have kept circling all afternoon without a problem. There was so much to absorb! Trapunto, mixed media, applique, silk dyeing, digital printing - you name it - there were works represented. Each artist excelled in their style and method and the exhibit presented an snapshot glimpse of the expanse of the art quilt field today. It was a wonderful way to gain inspiration and education in one fell swoop.

After viewing the exhibit, I had a chance to visit briefly with Roger and Adrienne. They are totally dedicated to their mission in the gallery to offer exciting new contemporary art works. We are really lucky to have them located in the Finger Lakes.

The Small Art Quilts exhibit continues to September 5. If you are able to visit the gallery before then, I really encourage you to do so.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quilts are Everywhere

I spent four days last week at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ at a Summer Camp for aikido practitioners. I had little free time for sketching, etc. related to my quilt art but my mind was never far from my quilt projects.

There was a quiet treed place near the gym where I would sit between classes. The last morning as I was missing my Bernina, I studied the building across from where I was sitting. I spied a potential quilt pattern in the design. Soon I was looking at all the surrounding buildings for similar patterns. It goes to prove that you can find ideas anywhere if you look with the eyes of a quilter.

Dorm at Rowan University. Can you see the pattern?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Centering Hint for You

I have worked for many years with Thomas Crum, author of The Magic of Conflict, Journey to Center, and Three Deep Breaths. Roughly every month we publish what we call a Centering Hint. This month's hint draws heavily on the metaphor of river rafting.

I invite you to enjoy these centering thoughts. If you would like to receive our hints on a regular basis, you can subscribe on the Aiki Works website.

The River and The Warrior Spirit

The cloud does not insist upon its form
The wave does not force its way over the ocean
So why should you clutch so tightly your little map?
                                              Haven Trevino

In July, we did a pilot six-day Magic on the River trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. The Middle Fork is one of the true wild rivers in the U.S. with no man-made dams or motorized boats allowed along the entire 100 plus mile stretch. The river did the teaching: the principles of flow, impermanence, life and mystery were imprinted upon us with every bend and canyon.

Floating down the river, we would look up to see an eagle soaring, look to the side on the canyon rocks and see a big horn sheep, or look down and see trout shimmering under the water. And then - poof! It was all gone as a new bend in the river arrived, with maybe deer, or a bear, or a waterfall misting over us from so high up that the sunlight and mist created a magical celestial shower. And then another bend, another moment.
In all that flow of beauty there was also destruction: hundreds of trees knocked down by avalanches or mudslides and jammed into rocks below; acres of burned forests from lightning strikes; dead salmon too tired to swim the final miles to spawn. The water was quiet and peaceful one moment, then roaring with fury the next. And yet it seemed - through both life and death - so purposeful, so majestic, so harmonious. For me, it was nature's way of teaching the warrior spirit.
I define the warrior spirit as the total commitment to become fully alive. Sounds like something we would all aspire to, doesn't it? The difficulty comes when we realize that to become fully alive we must cut through the ego and its stories and dramas, the veils that the ego uses to define us and provide some semblance, however false, of security. The river has no need to play such games. As the canyon pours down boulders, trees, and mud, she responds in flow, acceptance, and aliveness.
Our own lives produce an endless supply of boulders as well; difficult work situations, tumultuous relationships, emotional chaos, physical illnesses or injuries that challenge our sense of OKness. The warrior spirit is the courage to accept those 'boulders' with centered equanimity and continue flowing on.
When we have learned to stay awake in the difficult, fearful times, rather than medicating them away, or running to the comfort of our old dramas, something profound happens. Not enlightenment or deep peace, at least not at first, but more discomfort because being awake and present begins to strip away all the ego-trappings that we have acquired, the ones that give us a sense of groundedness, safety, of OKness. And that loss can be painful and scary.
But, just when we're lying on our backs in the blood and tears of it all, with nothing to hold onto - bang! (or maybe it's just a whisper) - we discover we're still here, and somehow we're flowing a little more freely inside. The river does not insist on its form. Why should we?
If we can learn to appreciate, with centered equanimity, the twists and turns, the rapids and eddies, of our life, a little more of the Mystery will seep in. Peace and joy flow into our being; compassion and kindness flow out. This is the warrior spirit, and the river knows it well.

Tom Crum
River photo by Andrew Arentowicz

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts of Quilt Artist Renate Hiller

This link was passed on to me through my quilt guild discussion group and I would like to pass it on to all of you. If you haven't viewed it already, please check it out.

It is a brief statement by quilt artist Renate Hiller on the significance of working with our hands. Renate is co-director of the Fiber Craft Studio at the Threefold Educational Center in Chestnut Ridge, New York. Her authenticity shines through in this clip.

SOF Observed - A World through the Hands by Trent Gilliss,...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Beautiful Clematis

On a recent trip to Spokane, WA, I visited a friend's home. She had the most amazing clematis vine growing in her front yard. These flowers just jump out at me as wanting to be quilted! I think the bottom photo is just begging to be made into a quilt!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Angelina Dragonfly Wings with Water Soluble Stabilizer

For my Dragonfly art quilt, I wanted to have wings that fluttered and were transparent. To accomplish this, I used some Sulky water soluble stabilizer, angelina fiber and thread.

First I drew an outline of the wings and veins on the stablizer.

Next, I fused angeline fiber and placed it over the stabilizer and then sewed in the outline of the wings and veins.

Here is what the wings looked like at this point.

 Then I dissolved the stabilizer in water.

I then arranged the wings on the body and appliqued to my base.

 Here is how it all turned out!


    Monday, August 2, 2010

    The Turtles are Done - Anniversary Quilt!

    The turtles are done - well, I still have to bind the quilt but that is nothing. And, as my husband has said once more that he really likes the turtles, I have realized that it can be our Anniversary Quilt. We have been married 37 years today. Funny, but this year we are both remembering it. Typically over the years I have been away at an annual aikido summer camp that I must attend. The timing of the camp this year allows me to be home and it is sweet.

    I had intended to keep this quilt any way. I used some fabric I picked up years ago on Maui and I was so pleased to have finally found a use for. The purple throughout the quilt makes it a perfect touch for the lavender leather chair in our bedroom.

    I learned a lot with this quilt. It piecing it definitely challenged me. (See earlier post.) In the end, I am glad I persisted. I am particularly pleased with how the quilting of the center portion turned out. It does look like the turtles are swimming in a current, doesn't it! I intend to use the effect in some other designs flowing through my mind (a solitary whale jumping, a zen rock garden effect).

    The nice thing is that, given where I am placing it, it will be one of the first things I see every morning when I am home and it will make me start the day with a smile.